Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is seeking answers from the White House on a proposal to shift the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan as President Trump weighs a decision to send thousands more troops into the conflict.
“From 2006 to 2014 the United States had over 20,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan at any given time, with 100,000 military personnel in the country between 2010 and 2011,” Lee wrote in a Friday letter to Trump.
“However, these levels of military activity did not yield the long-term stability or security gains that were desired,” he continued.
“How would an increase in the level of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and new strategy achieve a different outcome at this time?”
Lee’s questions come as the U.S. is facing mounting challenges in Afghanistan, most notably a resurgent Taliban.
Senior military officials have called the current fight a “stalemate” and have requested 3,000-5,000 additional troops.
Currently, there are about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan engaged in training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces, as well as conducting counterterrorism operations against militant groups including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) Afghan affiliate.
Lee has been an advocate of accelerating the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, signing onto a letter in 2011 which called on then-President Barack Obama to speed up country’s withdrawal from the conflict.
Trump rarely addressed the U.S.’s involvement in Afghanistan on the campaign trail. But the idea of increasing troop levels there contradicts his “America first” pledge to avoid sustained military intervention.